Case File: Covewood Lodge
Location: Eagle Bay, New York
Description: Covewood Lodge is an upstate New York lake resort with fully-equipped housekeeping cottages in a variety of sizes, including apartments and rooms in the Main Lodge. All cottages and apartments have fully equipped kitchens and the grounds include a variety of walking paths and activities.
Date: 1906 (Grace's Murder) / 1988 (Ghost Sightings)
History: Covewood Lodge is a favorite vacation spot on Big Moose Lake in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. However, several of its employees, including Rhonda Bousselot believe it's haunted. "I walked into the staff lodge, straight up the stairs with my hand out reaching for the string, which is how to turn on the light," she describes. "As I approached the top of the stairs and just before I was ready to turn on the light, a feeling came over me that somebody was right there. More or less, I stopped in my tracks and really just didn't move. I didn't have an overwhelming feeling of fright, but something or someone was definitely there, and it just kind of took my breath away."
At the same time, her three companions were watching a spectral woman on the second floor from outside the cabin. She continues, "It lingered for just a few seconds and then moved away. I didn't see anything myself, but I felt that somebody was right there, and it was just a strange feeling." It's believed the ghost is that of Grace Brown, whose brutal 1906 murder shocked the nation. She was slain at Covewood Lodge by her would-be lover Chester Gillette and has appeared several times since her murder.
Employee Lynda Lee Macken had her own encounter with Grace's ghost a few months after Rhonda's. She recalls, "I was walking down toward the lake with my flashlight and the light was getting dimmer and dimmer. By the time I got to the edge of the lake and the rocks, my flashlight wasn't working. So I had to turn around and go back," A few minutes later, she returned with her friend Bridget. While looking at the lake, they saw Grace appear out of the mist. Lynda recalls, "..I was awestruck, and not only was I certain that I was looking at a ghost, but I had a very strong feeling of sadness. She was very sad."
Background: Grace Brown was murdered at Covewood Lodge in July 1906 by Chester Gillette. At nineteen years old, she was an employee at the Gillette skirt factory in Cortland, New York where she met him, and it was he who brought her to the lodge. His uncle owned the company. Gillette never took Grace out in public and refused to acknowledge their relationship. However, he was frequently seen with other women; most of the women were from the town's wealthier families.
She might have thought he really loved her, but when she turned out to be pregnant, she begged Gillette to marry him, due to social stigmas of the time. Finally, he took her out on the lake one day and returned alone. When her body was found the next day near a capsized boat, he disavowed ever knowing her, but as the truth came out, he was slandered by the press. The case became a media event. He was tried and convicted of first degree murder, and on March 30, 1908, he died in the electric chair. Decades later, Hollywood turned the homicide into a hit film, "A Place in the Sun," with Grace unrealistically depicted as an unattractive nag.
Extra Notes: This case originally ran on the January 5, 1996 episode. Grace's murder is featured in the movie A Place in the Sun and the novel An American Tragedy.
- The Ghost of Grace Brown on Unsolved.com
- The Murder of Grace Brown on Wikipedia
- Ghost of Grace Brown website
- Century After Murder, American Tragedy Draws Crowd
- Covewood Lodge Website
- Covewood Lodge on Wikipedia
- Grace Brown at "Find A Grave"